Opinion: Will Move to Purge Ohio Voting Rolls Kickstart Congressional Action?
Justice Department no ally on civil rights issue

Fifty-two years ago this week, John Lewis of Georgia was a young activist, not the Democratic congressman he is today. Yet he got a warmer welcome from the then-president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, than from today’s occupant of the White House.

On the Twitter feed of the longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, you can see a picture celebrating that time a few decades ago, when, with Democratic and Republican support, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and then signed.

Opinion: Trump’s Ratings Hold Steady, but Is He Losing Key Groups He Needs to Stay on Top?
Military, law enforcement and GOP stalwarts now questioning the star

“You’re fired!” was the reality show refrain of the now president of the United States, Donald Trump. So when, on the campaign trail, candidate Trump said, “I alone can fix it,” with “it” meaning whatever was ailing the country and each one of its citizens, it was easy to for someone looking for answers to transfer his my-way-or-the-highway TV decisiveness to Oval Office success.

Could “The Apprentice” boss have bought into his own hype on the way to the White House, forgetting the behind-the-scenes writers and producers, and the reality of life after the director yells, “Cut”?

Opinion: ‘Values’ Are Relative When Rooting for Your Political Team
Demonization is easier than appreciating the virtues of opponents

In his wary optimism after the U.S. Senate voted to proceed with debate on dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act and replacing it with, well, something, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he and his supporters were “not out here to spike the football.”

In this case, the cliched sports metaphor fit.

Opinion: For Whom and What Do Faith Leaders Pray?
White evangelicals still strongly in president’s corner

Were their prayers answered?

White — most of them, anyway — evangelicals, recently photographed laying hands on President Donald Trump perhaps were praying that the proposed Senate health care bill, the one estimates predicted would result in millions losing care or Medicaid coverage, would fail.

Opinion: Demanding Dignity From Leaders Comes With a Complicated History
But it’s worth a try...

The room — 14 feet, 8 inches wide and 13 feet long — has no windows. It had been a restroom at the Monticello home of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. But now, the small room adjacent to Jefferson’s, the one historians believe once belonged to Sally Hemings, will be restored and given its due, as will the enslaved woman who evidence indicates was the mother of six children of the third president of the United States.

As the current president, Donald Trump, is often lambasted for lowering the dignity and honor of the office, the news coming out of Monticello — where the role of its enslaved people is belatedly a part of the historical presentation to visitors — is a bracing reminder that our leaders have always been flawed. Founding Father Jefferson wrote stirring words of equality while owning fellow human beings.

Opinion: Democracy — With Big Brother in the Voting Booth
Trump election panel tries to validate his fantasies about voter fraud

Some Americans believe in small government — until they don’t.

Remember the conservative mantra, “government is the problem?” Well, toss out that way of thinking for a group of leaders — some elected, some appointed — who want to create a complicated new arm of government bureaucracy, one that reaches into how and how often a person votes and sucks up a chunk of your Social Security number for good measure. And we’re paying for this?

Opinion: The Politics of Drug Policy
Lawmakers appear to be setting up a strategy of contradictions

It’s an intractable issue in the news daily, so the proposed, much-debated and now-delayed Senate Republican health care bill had to do something to answer the opioid addiction crisis in America. Add to that the basic political realization that in many of the states that supported Donald Trump and Republicans, a high percentage of people are hurting — to turn a blind eye would be a problem for America and for the GOP on many levels.

Many fear the Senate bill is not enough to meet a challenge that is intertwined with unemployment, the economy and more. Though, at least — and some would label it the very least — the uncertain yet compassionate reaction contrasts with the harsh strategy the Justice Department has laid out for other low-level drug offenders.

Opinion: Of Shakespearean Lessons and Art That Makes Us Think
The president doth tweet too much, methinks

When Barack Obama burst onto the national stage and consciousness with his eloquent speech of unity at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, listeners delighted at its deliberate thoughtfulness — the flip side of the George W. Bush “everyman” style. (And yes, that the polished orator was the child raised without a father and the other had a lineage of political privilege was part of the irony and appeal of the shiny, new package.)

President Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, was, as everyone knows, the opposite of all that — a man of immediate reaction and few, sometimes incoherent and contradictory words, often strung together in 140 characters or less. Those who favored this new style eventually read the former’s quality of reflection as indecision, and compared President Obama, often unfavorably, to “Hamlet.”

Opinion: Donald Trump — the Affirmative Action President and His Enablers
Different rules — or no rules — for different people

House Speaker Paul Ryan offered the excuse “He’s just new to this” for Donald Trump after former FBI chief James Comey’s testimony that the president has done and said things that were inappropriate, even if they don’t turn out to be illegal. It sounded like something you would say in defense of a toddler who dives face-first into the birthday cake because he hasn’t yet learned what a fork is for.

President Trump is that guy — and it’s a guy 99 percent of the time — who doesn’t bother to read the book but tries to bluff his way through the oral report. Sometimes that guy is funny. When he is in a position to weaken long-held European alliances, jeopardize troops on a base in the Middle East or shred America’s safety net as well as ethical guidelines set by the founders in the U.S. Constitution, no one should be laughing. A “gentleman’s C” won’t cut it when so much is at stake.

Opinion: What Exactly Do Republicans Believe in Besides Trump?
Power may be valued more than patriotism

When my parents were good Republicans — my mother a party activist, in fact — the label meant something entirely different than it does today.

It was the party of Lincoln, imagine that, and the GOP tolerated differences with a tent that was indeed big. You could be pro-civil rights and fiscally conservative, a working-class African-American family in Maryland, then, as now, a mostly blue state, and there was someone such as Republican Sen. Charles Mathias. With his streak of independence and loyalty to principle, he could represent you, your party and even those who didn’t vote for him.

Opinion: African-American Women Call Out the Democratic National Committee
But are Democrats listening?

We crave the hard-to-get while ignoring the one who has stuck with us through thick and thin. In a letter to the DNC chair, a group of black women — activists, community leaders and elected officials — has accused the Democratic Party of falling into that too-often-true cliche. Who can blame them? 

Shades of “Moby-Dick” in the narrative that took hold after the party’s 2016 losses, with white working-class males replacing the elusive white whale of Melville’s imagination. Will the results for the Democrats be just as tragic as Captain Ahab’s if the party doubles down on that strategy for election cycles to come?

Opinion: Democrats May Be Too Optimistic About 2018 Gains
Ghosts of racial discord still haunt the South

The Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina turned out to be too racially driven for a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives — with Justice Clarence Thomas siding with the majority.

Who’d have thought it?

Opinion: Trump Policies on Voting and Criminal Justice Quietly Move Country Backward
Plans proceed despite chaos in the White House

While the Trump administration is in a state of perpetual turmoil, some of its promised policies are proceeding as planned. Support from a Republican Congress is softening with each cringe-worthy headline about slips, leaks and feuds; still, its members, mindful of the president’s loyal base, are proceeding with caution.

And when you step back from the chaos, don’t expect to see any progress on other issues — such as voting rights and criminal justice reform — that once promised a bit of bipartisan cooperation. 

Opinion: Trump’s Reruns — ‘Slippery Ethics, Harsh Pronouncements and Shiny Gilt’
Comey firing just the latest episode

Is everyone exhausted yet?

The one thing America could count on was that Trump, as promised, would put on a surprising show. But not even four months into the Trump presidency, the one surprise is how depressingly familiar the playbook has become. The hopes and dreams that candidate Trump promised to fulfill? Hold off on those.

Opinion: It’s Huge — Few Presidents Have Praised Authoritarians as Much as Trump
But administration has little to say about police shootings

So what does a criminal look like, exactly? On the campaign trail, Donald Trump featured the moving stories of the grieving relatives of those who had been killed by criminals who were in the U.S. illegally. In a promise kept, the Department of Homeland Security has introduced the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, housed within Immigration and Customs Enforcement. DHS Secretary John Kelly said: “They are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place — because the people who victimized them often times should never have been in the country.”

While Kelly assured this effort will aid victims of crime who also are undocumented, it comes as ICE has shifted its priorities when picking up the undocumented for deportation, sometimes going to courthouses and hospitals while immigrant activists protest that this prevents those in need from seeking help.

Opinion: The Obama Effect — Pros and Cons for Republicans and Democrats
Former president could unite a party in distress

Barack Obama, the charismatic former president, can cause a scene just by walking into a coffee shop, as the rapturous crowds in usually blase New York City demonstrated at one of his cameos. So as he gently re-entered the public and policy eye this week, it’s no surprise that he could throw both Democrats and Republicans off balance — though of course for very different reasons.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave President Donald Trump possibly his most important first-100-day achievement by spearheading the maneuver to transform Obama’s Supreme Court pick to replace Antonin Scalia into the conservative Neil Gorsuch, whose first significant vote allowed an Arkansas execution to proceed. McConnell’s obstruction and subsequent “nuclear option” may have played a part in breaking the democratic process, but isn’t that a small price to pay for a win —  at least I’m sure the president feels that way.

Opinion: Weighing the Costs of War and Diplomacy
Military action is not always the courageous choice

John F. Kelly is getting a lot of criticism these days, and that’s understandable. As leader of the Department of Homeland Security, the retired Marine general now has to be more sensitive to the politics of any given situation.

So when he publicly said critics of his agency’s policies — whether they come from Congress, civil rights groups or the public — should “shut up,” he came off as what he once was, a military man giving orders. When the administration, Kelly’s department in particular, is challenged on its travel bans and inconsistent immigration enforcement, Kelly could do more listening and learning.

Opinion: In North Carolina, the Good and Not-So-Good News
Compromise on ‘bathroom bill’ but an attempt to ban same-sex marriage

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s North Carolina, so, of course, the good news is followed by that pesky dark cloud every time.

You would think everyone in the state would welcome the end of the long saga over House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, which was repealed recently in a compromise. That bill, which had compelled people to use the bathroom that corresponded to the gender on their birth certificates, also said cities could not follow Charlotte’s lead and enact their own anti-discrimination ordinances or a minimum wage and much more.

Opinion: Jeff Sessions-Style Policing Makes Everyone Less Safe
Law enforcement shouldn’t target the powerless

 

The Trump administration is most comfortable with power and the powerful.

Opinion: Not So Fast, Democrats. You Had a Good Day, but Now What?
Party needs to focus on a clear message

As the Republican Party has learned, it’s much easier to be the party of “no” than to actually have a plan to lead. So while Democrats are celebrating a GOP in disarray, the party out of power needs a message and a plan.

Understandably, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosicelebrated as the GOP’s new-and-improved health care plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed. But long term, she must truly want to experience a return to the speaker’s post. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer knows just how to rile Donald Trump, his fellow New Yorker. But he still has to call Trump Mr. President.